Cure the Coronavirus: Prayers to 2 Incredible Saints Who Miraculously Defeated Plagues

Cure the Coronavirus: Prayers to 2 Incredible Saints Who Miraculously Defeated Plagues


by ChurchPOP Editor – 

Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain / ChurchPOP

How can we end the world’s coronavirus outbreak? These two saints might be the answer.

Two saints miraculously cured plagues: St. Roch and St. Rosalie. Below are their incredible stories, as well as prayers invoking their powerful intercession.

St. Roch

Born of a noble family, tradition says St. Roch was miraculously born with a red cross on his breast.

St. Roch gave all of his fortune to the poor at age 20 after his parents died. In 1315, he assisted plague victims in several Italian cities, miraculously curing people with the sign of the cross. While helping the sick, he also contracted the disease.

However, the saint survived after a dog helped him in the forest. The dog brought him food and licked his wounds. He was later mistaken for a spy and spent the rest of his life in prison.

According to tradition, an angel appeared in St. Roch’s cell after his death. The angel said that those who invoked his intercession would be cured of the plague.

Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Prayer to St. Roch

O Blessed Saint Roch,
Patron of the sick,
Have pity on those
Who lie upon a bed of suffering.

Your power was so great
When you were in this world,
That by the sign of the Cross,
Many were healed of their diseases.

Now that you are in heaven,
Your power is not less.
Offer, then, to God
Our sighs and tears
And obtain for us that health we seek
Through Christ our Lord.


(Repeat the following 3 times)

Saint Roch, pray for us,
That we may be preserved
From all diseases of body and soul.

St. Rosalie

The Church knows little about St. Rosalie‘s life. Her story begins 500 years after her death.

In 1625, the city of Palermo in Sicily, Italy suffered a terrible plague. She appeared to a hunter, telling him to find her remains in a cave. She asked him to bring her remains into the city, citizens processed three times with her relics through Palermo. The plague then miraculously ended.

St. Rosalie became the patroness of Palermo A sanctuary stands where the hunter found her remains.

Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Prayer to St. Rosalie:

“Father in heaven, we thank You for the communion of saints so that we can draw near to You through the prayers of St. Rosalie. Through her prayers, help us to remember that our destiny is heaven.

As St. Rosalie gave up all things in this world for the sake of Your Kingdom, through her prayers, may we love more fully Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit are one God forever and ever. Amen.

O God, our Father, mercifully look upon Your people who come to You and grant through the intercession of St. Rosalie, who turned away from earthly delights to the joys of contemplation, that we may be delivered from all harm here on earth and one day be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven.

St. Rosalie, confessor and virgin, we pray to God for our families and friends. Through your powerful prayers, may we obtain health, life, and eternal salvation.

I also pray today for this special need and intention (make your intention known). O glorious virgin and confessor, St. Rosalie, I promise henceforth to remember and follow your example of faith and love. Pray for me and mine.


Prayer for Coronavirus Victims:

Q&A: Deacon Rob Lanciotti, former CDC virologist, shares coronavirus tips (+ more)

Q&A: Deacon Rob Lanciotti, former CDC virologist, shares coronavirus tips

Deacon Rob Lanciotti of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Collins holds a doctoral degree in Microbiology and was employed as a virologist for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for 29 years.  Deacon Lanciotti was kind enough to put together this Q&A with more information about coronavirus and how Catholics can keep themselves healthy.

Visit for the most up-to-date information.

What to Do If You Think You Have COVID-19

While the coronavirus is a respiratory disease similar to a cold or flu, there’s a notable symptom that’s missing in nearly all cases: a runny nose.


A cure for coronavirus: Pray to two saints who miraculously defeated plagues...

How can we end the world’s coronavirus outbreak? These two saints might be the answer. Two saints miraculously cured plagues: St. Roch and St. Rosalie. Below are their incredible stories, as well as prayers invoking their powerful intercession

The Strength to Become Lambs MARCELLINO D’AMBROSIO, PH.D.

The Strength to Become Lambs


The Protestant Church is all about the Bible; the Catholic Church is all about the Sacraments.  Right?

Not exactly.  When it comes to personal Bible reading, Protestants often put Catholics to shame.  But as far as Sunday worship goes, it is hard to find a more biblical service than the Mass. The readings are awesome enough, but even the prayers of the Mass are full of Scripture.  Many lines spoken by priest and people are, in fact, direct quotes from the Bible.  Consider, for example, what the priest says just before communion: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”  That’s a direct quote from John 1:29 where John the Baptist says this as he points out Jesus to his disciples.

We are so used to calling Jesus the Lamb of God that we can miss the jolt that this must have given the first people who heard it.

Most Jews were expecting a Messiah who would be the Lion of Judah, a new David who would drive out the Romans through military heroism.  It hadn’t occurred to them that the Messiah would be a Lamb.

Lambs are not exactly known for their prowess in battle. They don’t kill; they die.  They were, in fact, sacrificed daily in the Jewish temple as an act of worship to God.

But there was a special sacrifice that happened every year in which lambs were featured most predominantly.  It was the central celebration of the Jewish Year–Passover.  This was the yearly remembrance of the greatest act of salvation in the Old Testament, the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian slavery.  The final plague that would bring Pharaoh to his knees and the Israelites to freedom was the angel of death “passing over” Egypt to take the lives of Egypt’s most precious resource–their first-born sons.

What was to prevent the Israelites from suffering the same fate?  The sacrifice of a perfect lamb, without spot or blemish.  This Lamb was a substitute for the first-born of the Israelite family that offered the sacrifice.  And a costly offering this was, since the wealth of a family was counted in terms of its animals.

The blood of the Lamb was to be smeared on the doorpost of the house and the family was to eat the flesh of this sacrificial animal in a special ritual meal.

We all know the end of that story.  Pharaoh let the Israelites go, and the Israelites celebrated this event each year, with hundreds of thousands of Jews coming to Jerusalem to sacrifice their lambs and to eat the Passover supper in the Holy City.

It was no accident that Jesus was arrested and put to death during Passover.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus breathes his last at the very same moment that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple.  The same Gospel is the only one to point out that Jesus legs weren’t broken to make sure he was dead, as was customary in crucifixions.  Rather, the Romans employed an alternate verification method – a lance thrust to the heart (John 19:32).  Why does John take pains to emphasize this?  Because Scripture stipulates that no bone of the Passover Lamb could be broken (Exodus 12:46).

All the words and events of the Old Covenant had great value, meaning and dignity in and of themselves.  But they also pointed forward to a greater covenant, to a person who was the Word made flesh, to a Lamb who saved Israel from a deeper slavery than Pharaoh’s, to an event that would be the culminating moment in human history.

The Word came as a spotless Lamb to offer the perfect sacrifice of love that would outweigh all human evil and therefore take away all sins.  The Shepherd offered his blood for our sins and gave his body as our new Passover meal.  His aim?  To give his sheep the strength to become lambs, who offer their lives for the life of the world (Romans 12:2), just as he did.

By Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For info on his resources and pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit or call 800.803.0118.

70 Meat-Free Fast Food Meals For Lent By: Alex Lenhoff   

70 Meat-Free Fast Food Meals For Lent

70 Meat-Free Fast Food Meals For Lent


Lent is upon us! For Catholics, that means 40 days of self-reflection, prayer, and abstaining from meat on Fridays. Now before you get all depressed thinking of all the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches you’ll be eating on Fridays, let me share some good news: THERE IS A BETTER WAY! That’s right, you no longer have to suffer through greasy, fried fish sandwiches slathered in tartar sauce to make it through Lent!

In the last few years, fast food restaurants have upped their game when it comes to vegetarian and seafood options, making it easier than ever for you to observe Lent without giving up the convenience of fast food. These new meat-less menu options go beyond the traditional fried fish sandwich, giving Catholics Lent-friendly options that are tastier than ever.

Arby’s Lent-Friendly Menu

The slogan at Arby’s might be “We Have the Meats”, but they also have the fish! Arby’s offers a few fish sandwiches as well as a vegetarian Mac n Cheese. Arby’s Crispy Fish Sandwich features a fried Alaskan Pollock filet and tartar sauce. Not enough flavor for you? Then try the Fish ‘n Cheddar Sandwich which ads cheddar cheese sauce. Still not enough for you? Then the King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich is what you need. You’ll get the same Alaskan Pollock and tartar sauce from the other sandwiches, plus lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese, all on a King’s Hawaiian sweet roll. Not feeling the fish? Arby’s is also offering a White Cheddar Mac n Cheese that makes a good lent-friendly option.

Burger King Lent-Friendly Menu

Burger King has a couple of great meat-free menu items that are available year round. The Big Fish Sandwich has a panko breadcrumb coated Alaskan Pollock fillet, topped with tartar sauce, pickles and lettuce. Another great Lent-friendly option from Burger King is the Impossible Whopper. With a plant-based burger patty, the Impossible Whopper will allow you to enjoy the taste of a flame grilled burger while still avoiding meat.

Carl’s Jr/Hardees Lent-Friendly Menu

While most fast food restaurants only provide lent-friendly options for lunch and dinner, Carl’s Jr and Hardees offers some great breakfast options as well. In the morning, try the Beyond Sausage Burrito or Beyond Sausage Egg & Cheese Biscuit. Later in the day, the Beyond Famous Star and Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger are your best meat-free bets at Carl’s Jr. Over at Hardees, the Beyond Thickburger is your lent-friendly lunch or dinner choice.

Chick-fil-A Lent-Friendly Menu

While best known for chicken, Chick-fil-A has a few salads on the menu that can be had without meat for a healthy, lent-friendly meal. Just be careful when you order, as the Cobb Salad has bacon bits that also need to be avoided!

Chipotle Lent-Friendly Menu

At Chipotle, Catholic customers seeking to avoid meat can get a variety of entrees with a tofu-based protein called Sofritas. Tofu on its own doesn’t have a ton of taste, but Chipotle’s Sofritas is seasoned with a variety of spices and peppers to give it some kick.

Culver’s Lent-Friendly Menu

Culver’s offers fish sandwiches and dinner options, with your choice of walleye or cod. The dinners come with tarar sauce, a warm dinner roll and your choice of two sides. Culver’s also offers a vegetarian salad and fried shrimp.

Del Taco Lent-Friendly Menu

Avoiding meat during lent at Del Taco is easy. The Tex-Mex chain offers a variety of tacos and burritos made with fish and Beyond Meat’s plant-based beef as well as a few fish and bean options.

Taco Bell Lent-Friendly Menu

Taco Bell Veggie Power BurritoOne of the most vegetarian-friendly fast food restaurants around is one you might not expect: Taco Bell, thanks to a variety of bean-filled burritos, bowls and cheese quesadillas. However, if you’re a seafood lover, you’ll find the Taco Bell menu lacking. Unlike some taco restaurants, Taco Bell does not have a fish taco option for lent.

Our favorite Taco Bell menu items for lent have to be the Veggie Power Bowl and Burrito… but that might just be because we’re partial to avocado!

Panera Lent-Friendly Menu

Panera Mediterranean Veggie SandwichAnother great option for a quick lunch during Lent is Panera. They have a variety of vegetarian salads, soups and sandwiches. Another good meat-free option is the Signature Mac and Cheese, which we just love to cozy up with on a cold day!

If you plan on making Panera your Lent lunch spot, you can have some fun by mixing it up! Get yourself half of a veggie or tuna sandwich and pair it with a vegetarian cup of soup for a tasty and filling Lent-friendly meal.

Popeyes Lent-Friendly Menu

Popeyes has a number of seafood items that make a good lent-friendly lunch or dinner. Choose from shrimp, catfish or cajun fish.

Wendy’s Lent-Friendly Menu

Aside from some side dishes, like Fries and Baked Potatos, Wendy’s lone lent-friendly offering is a fish sandwich.

Sonic Lent-Friendly Menu

Sonic has two seafood sandwiches that are available for a limited time during Lent, the Fish Sandwich and the Crab and Seafood Sandwich

Subway Lent-Friendly Menu

At Subway, customers can craft their own vegetarian sandwich for Lent. Just choose your bread, cheese and vegetables to make a meatless meal that is truly your own! But if that’s not enough to satisfy you, try the Seafood Sensation or Tuna subs. And remember, any sandwich at Subway can also be made into a salad.

25 Quick Tips to Improve Your Confession


In Sacramental Theology there exists an all-important concept for the efficacious reception of any of the Sacraments. This is called Dispositive Grace or Grace of Disposition. What this concept means is simply this: the graces that you receive in your reception of the Sacraments are in direct proportion to the disposition of your soul at the moment of the reception of that specific Sacrament.

In the Sacraments, Jesus touches us directly, in the most personal and powerful way that we could possibly imagine.  The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and Christ unites Himself with us through the Sacraments.

Receiving a Guest

One of the easiest analogies to understand the concept of Dispositive Grace could be the example of inviting a guest to dinner.  There is a whole gamut of ways that the guest could be received, from totally poor to excellent.  In inviting a guest, you might even forget that you invited him—pretty shabby!  Or the guest might come and the door is open, but there has been no prior preparation.  Still again, the guest might be received with a meal prepared, but all is done in a rush, in which the guest feels as if he were a burden.  Then, there might be preparation for the guest with a welcoming committee, a good meal, and great desert.

Finally, it might be such that the house was cleaned the day before, the favorite food of the guest has been prepared, the guest’s favorite music is playing in the background, and then at the end of the meal the family offers the guest a special gift that the guest really likes!  Obviously, every scenario is different.  This can be applied with respect to the concept of Dispositive Grace, most specifically to the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist. He could be received very poorly or with an excellent disposition.

Frequent Sacraments

There are two Sacraments that we should receive frequently until we die and meet the Lord—Confession and the Holy Eucharist.  In this article we would like to highlight specific ways that we can enhance the graces that we receive in the reception of the Sacrament of Confession, sometimes called Penance or Reconciliation.  The suggestions will be very short, but we hope very useful to upgrade your reception of the infinite mercy of Jesus that comes through this Sacrament.

  1. Trust.

We must have s limitless trust in the infinite love and mercy that comes to us through Jesus in the Sacrament of His mercy, Confession. May this prayer issue forth from our hearts time and time again: Jesus I trust in you! 

  1. Read Luke 15. 

An excellent means to prepare us to receive the Sacrament of God’s mercy is to read and meditate upon Luke 15, sometimes called the Lost and Found Chapter.

  1. Parables of Mercy. 

In Luke 15 we encounter the lost sheep and the sheep that is found, the lost and found coin, and the lost and found son—the Prodigal Son.  Confession is being found and loved by our merciful Father.

  1. Just do It.

The modern phrase found on many young people’s T-shirts is Just do it!  The devil will prevent you from going to confession.  So, kick the devil in the behind and Just do it!

  1. Priest-Christ. 

We must renew our faith that by going to confession to the priest we are really confessing to Jesus, the Eternal High Priest.

  1. Biblical Truth.

Recall the words that Jesus used in instituting the Sacrament of Confession, the 1st Easter Sunday night, when the Apostles were in the Upper Room.  “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive will be forgiven; whose sins you retain shall be retained. (Jn. 20:21-23)

  1. Confess ASAP.

If you have had the misfortune of falling into mortal sin, in which you have lost sanctifying grace and friendship with Jesus, do not wait, but go to Confession as soon as possible!  If your house were on fire, you would not wait. What about your soul in danger of eternal perdition, do not wait!

  1. Prepare Well.

As said earlier expressing the concept of Dispositive Grace, the better the preparation, the more abundant the graces.  The fault is never in the Sacrament but in the poor disposition of the recipient of the Sacrament.

  1. How?

Get a good booklet explaining the Ten Commandments in detail and read through it; better said, pray through it.  Jesus said to the rich young man that salvation comes through observing the Commandments.  Indeed, they are Commandments and not Suggestions!

  1. Write it Down.

It could be very helpful to actually write down your sins on a piece of paper; this will prevent memory-loss in the moment you go to confession. However, after confession, trash the paper and the sins.

  1. Grace of True Sorrow.

Of paramount importance in making a good confession is begging the Holy Spirit for the grace of true sorrow for your sins. Imperfect sorrow is called Attrition, which is Fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of Wisdom. It is also one of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Imperfect sorrow is fear of going to hell. This is enough to receive forgiveness for our sins.

  1. Perfect Sorrow. 

However, we want to arrive at perfect sorrow. This means that we are sorry for having sinned because our sins have hurt the One who loves us so much and the One we should love in return—Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  1. Beg for the Grace.  

We should beg for the grace to attain both imperfect contrition, as well as perfect contrition.  Saint Augustine put it concisely: We are all beggars before God.

  1. Firm Purpose of Amendment. 

What necessarily flows from true and sincere contrition of sorrow for sin is a firm purpose of amendment. In concrete this means that we are ready and willing to avoid any person, place, or thing that can lead us into sin.

  1. Don’t Play With Fire. 

In other words, we should not play with fire.  We should not walk on a slippery moral slope. We should not walk on thin ice. Often we sin because we place ourselves in harm’s way.  We must be firm in avoiding all near occasions of sin!

  1. Use images.  

Of great utility could be as you prepare yourself for confession, as you examine your conscience and beg for true sorrow, to pray before images that raise your mind and heart to God. Three in specific: The cross, aware that our sins nailed Jesus to the cross; Divine Mercy, so that our trust will be infinite; finally, Our Lady, to whom we pray as such: Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.

  1. Pray for the Priest. 

On one occasion, Saint Faustina left the confessional without peace and she wondered why.  Jesus revealed to her the reason: she forgot to pray for the priest before she entered the confessional.  So pray for the priest (a Hail Mary or a prayer to the Guardian angels—theirs and yours) and the confession will flow more smoothly!

  1. Qualities of a Good Confession.

Jesus also revealed to Saint Faustina the three most important qualities of a good confession: transparency, humility, and obedience.  To be a good penitent, we must express our sins with great clarity.  Then we should make no excuses when we confess our sins or blame others.  Finally, we should obey what the priest tells us.

  1. Start Right, Close the Door, Begin. 

Upon entering the confessional make sure that you close the door.  Then start with the proper formula: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.  My last confession was… (for example, a month ago).  These are my sins…

  1. Stay on Topic. 

In that famous TV Program Dragnet, we heard those all-important words from Joe Friday:  Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.  So in confession the priest wants to hear:  Just the sins, mam, just the sins.  Cut to the quick and tell your sins; that is the essential matter for confession, and of course a true and repentant heart!

  1. Acts of Contrition and Absolution.

The Sacrament concludes with you, the penitent, praying with great sincerity and fervor your Act of Contrition. Then the priest imparts absolution. With the words of Absolution through the ministry of the priest, the most Precious Blood of Jesus washes your soul clean, as white as the snow!

  1. An Attitude of Gratitude.

Thanks the priest, as you leave thank Jesus for His infinite love and mercy that you have received in this wonderful Sacrament! Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.

  1. Penance.

The last a final step of making a good confession is to carry out the penance that the priest gave you.  Once my spiritual director made a suggestion on the penance.  He said always try to do double what the confessor gives you (not that this is absolutely necessary).  However, it is a sign of good will and the sign of a really good grace of disposition.  God will bless you all the more!  God can never be outdone in generosity!

  1. Healing the Wounded Heart and Soul.  

The specific sacramental grace of Confession is that of Healing.  Sin wounds our soul, but Jesus heals us.  As Jesus healed the many sick and infirm in the three years of His Public life, so He continually heals us through making good confessions.  Rejoice in being healed!  Indeed, Jesus is the Wounded Healer!

  1. Be An Apostle of Confession!   

You have received so much peace, joy, happiness, love, and mercy through having received the Sacrament of God’s mercy, Confession, now go out and proclaim the Good News!  Bring others to this infinite Font of God’s mercy!

Editor’s note, for more on how to get more out of Holy Communion, check out the book, How to Make a Good Confession: A Pocket Guide to Reconciliation With God by Fr. John A. Kane. An excerpt is also available here on CE under the article “Combat Pride Through Confession.”

Lent and First Aid, for the Health of Our Souls by Donald DeMarco


Lent and First Aid, for the Health of Our Souls

COMMENTARY: The 40 days of Lent direct us to ward off temptation so that we can become more complete Christians.

Donald DeMarco

The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be Prepared.” Having been a Boy Scout in my youth, I am grateful to this venerable organization for teaching me how to be prepared so that I could provide first aid to my younger brother many, many years ago when he put his fist through a pane of glass. Noticing the profuse bleeding, I used my handkerchief as a tourniquet and put the small end of a spoon through the knot I tied and then twisted it clockwise until I could see that my dear sibling’s arm was no longer spouting blood. That was first aid. I then handed my brother over to the medical specialists so they could provide second aid.

First aid can save lives. Its importance is certainly not to be underestimated. Yet, in the realm of morality, it is so often ignored when the first sign of immorality appears.

In the secular world, where indulgence reigns, there is a tendency to wait until the next mishap occurs before the tourniquet is applied — which is really second aid in the moral realm. First aid in the same realm, as provided by the Church’s teachings and, ultimately, the grace of God, is actually a kind of preventative moral medicine — a tourniquet applied to the soul tempted by sin.

For example, the world says, “Don’t drive when you are drunk.” The Church says, “Don’t get drunk.” The world says, “Don’t be promiscuous unless you use a condom.” The Church says, “Don’t be promiscuous.” The world says, “Don’t use harmful drugs without a clean needle.” The Church says, “Don’t use harmful drugs.” The world says, “Don’t feel guilty about sexual indiscretions.” The Church says, “Don’t get involved in sexual indiscretions.”

We might say that whereas medical first aid can save lives, moral first aid can save souls. But we must know when and where to place the tourniquet that will allow us to steer clear of the sins that would leave our souls bleeding to death.

In the modern secular world, given its permissiveness, the moral tourniquet arrives belatedly and often offers little by way of aid. Damage has already taken place. The initial problem is ignored and then becomes compounded by a succeeding problem. At that point the moral bleeding is much more difficult — if not impossible — to stanch. D.H. Lawrence expressed the matter most eloquently when he wrote: “We are bleeding at the roots because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars. Love has become a grinning mockery because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the Tree of Life and expected it to keep blooming in our civilized vase on the table.”

There is much in D.H. Lawrence’s works that Catholics would find objectionable, especially regarding his overwrought depictions of sexual encounters. His collected works, however, represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. In this regard, he has something of importance to say, and he often says it quite dramatically.

We are cut off from God, who is the Author of the “earth and sun and stars.” We have created for ourselves a godless and artificial world of presumed self-sufficiency. When bleeding first occurs (metaphorically speaking), it is not taken seriously. First aid is not applied. Therefore, second aid will be less effective. Soon, the problem gets out of hand. Our moral health is no longer “blooming” in the artificial climate in which we have placed it. We continue to bleed and wonder why the various bromides the secular world provides, including self-help books and philosophy, have failed us.

The Church, being eminently practical, instructs us in how to deal with temptation. “I can resist anything but temptation,” Oscar Wilde once quipped. But temptation is not a laughing matter for the Church. She wants to prevent the bleeding from ever getting started. She should not be derided for this. Her practicality should be taken to heart and even praised. She does not suffer from the shortsightedness that plagues the secular world.

Temptation is the devil’s point of entrance. That is precisely where our spiritual tourniquet should be applied. We want to keep the devil out so that he does not block God’s passageway into our souls. We do not want to bleed at the roots. Our roots should be used as conduits for God’s grace.

Some anonymous pundit once said, “A woman flees from temptation, but a man just crawls away from it in the cheerful hope it may overtake him.” This remark, humorous as it is, is not entirely devoid of truth. At the same time, another pundit remarked: “Opportunity knocks only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.” Nonetheless temptation neither divides the sexes nor is it unremitting in its persistence. We are all tempted in various ways, which is to say, tempted to do the wrong thing.

It is a human weakness, but one that does not lack a cure. The temptation of Christ is detailed in Matthew (4:1-11), Mark (1:12,13) and Luke (4:1-13). After Jesus was baptized, he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the Judean desert, during which time Satan tried to tempt him three times. The temptations were associated with the sins of avarice, gluttony and pride. After being refused each temptation, Satan departed, and Christ began his ministry. These Gospel passages indicate the elementary importance of resisting temptation. They also indicate where the tourniquet must be placed. Christ is our model for resisting temptation and refusing to allow the devil to gain entrance into our life. He also delineates the starting point for spiritual progress.

The 40 days of Lent, mirroring the 40 days that Christ spent in the desert, direct us to ward off temptation so that we can become more complete Christians, so that we can become whole — and no longer find ourselves bleeding at the roots.

Donald DeMarco’s latest book is

Notes From the Underground: Dialogue With a

World in Disarray,

posted on

What is the symbolism of ashes on Ash Wednesday? by Philip Kosloski 

What is the symbolism of ashes on Ash Wednesday?


Ashes have a long tradition in the Catholic Church, finding its roots in the Old Testament.

Ash Wednesday in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church is focused, not surprisingly, on the imposition of ashes on all the faithful who attend Mass or a prayer service. This ceremony is relatively brief, but has rich symbolism that is sometimes forgotten.First of all, the ashes used are typically created at the parish church through the burning of palm branches. These palm branches were blessed on Palm Sunday the year before, which connects the beginning of Lent to the end of Lent, when we remember the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The penitential season begins with the crucifixion and ends with the crucifixion.


Secondly, the prayer used by the priest to impose ashes on the forehead of an individual is meant to remind us of our mortality and the consequences of Adam and Eve’s original sin. The prayer, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” is a direct quotation from the book of Genesis when God is delivering his judgment to Adam and Eve after they eat from the Tree of Good and Evil.

By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)

Adam and Eve are then exiled from the Garden of Eden and are not allowed to return, sentenced to a mortal life.

Furthermore, ashes were used by many throughout the Old Testament as a sign of their repentance, asking God to have mercy on them. In the book of Judith, “all the Israelite men, women, and children who lived in Jerusalem fell prostrate in front of the temple and sprinkled ashes on their heads, spreading out their sackcloth before the Lord” (Judith 4:11). Afterwards, “The Lord heard their cry and saw their distress” (Judith 4:13).

Most famously when the prophet Jonah preached in the city of Nineveh, “he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes” (Jonah 3:6).

Each time when the people sprinkled themselves with ashes, repent of their sins and cried out to God for mercy, the Lord heard their cries and spared them from destruction.

This symbolism of repentance is why, in the current version of the Roman Rite, the words spoken at the imposition of ashes may be Jesus’ injunction to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

St. John Paul II also summarized the depth of meaning behind the ashes.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, … take not your holy Spirit from me.” We hear this plea echoing in our hearts, while in a few moments we will approach the Lord’s altar to receive ashes on our forehead in accordance with a very ancient tradition. This act is filled with spiritual allusions and is an important sign of conversion and inner renewal. Considered in itself, it is a simple liturgical rite, but very profound because of its penitential meaning: with it the Church reminds man, believer and sinner, of his weakness in the face of evil and especially of his total dependence on God’s infinite majesty.

Ashes are a rich symbol in the Catholic Church, one the connects us to a long biblical tradition of crying out to God for mercy, showing to him our interior renewal by an exterior sign

How fasting can lead to a more loving heart

Philip Kosloski |

If we follow the example of Jesus, fasting can make us a more charitable and loving person.

Initially, fasting can appear to be a negative practice, concerned about denying ourselves certain pleasures, such as food or entertainment. However, if we fast like Jesus, it will open our heart to our neighbor and lead to a more loving heart.

When Jesus fasted in the wilderness, he did so with us in mind. It was not a selfish desire, but one of charity. This gives us the key to fasting in Jesus’ example.

We should look forward to fasting as an opportunity to open our heart to God and our neighbor, fasting with a distinct purpose in mind. In other words, we will be successful in our fasting if we do so for someone else, with the intention that the fruits and graces will be showered on them. In this way, fasting becomes an act of love.

Additionally, fasting should also lead us to consider others and seek ways to help the poor and most vulnerable.

Nineteenth-century writer H M. Wylde reflects on this aspect of fasting in his book, Simple meditations for young persons.

Isaiah shows us that the outward form of fasting is of no value, unless it lead us first to repentance, then to works of charity.

We are to loose the bands of wickedness, and then to deal our bread to the hungry, the bread that costs us something to give up. We are to bring the poor to our house, to give our time to them, to put aside our pride and draw the poor near to us, and this because they are Christ’s poor.

Fasting should lead us to unselfishness. It should make us forget our own wishes in trying to spend our time and our money for others. Fasting should make us long to do more for Christ, and unless we fast with the desire of becoming more like him, it will be of no avail. Christ gave up all that he cared for, and spent forty days and nights fasting, that he might show us how to deny ourselves.

Resolution: I will try to do something this day for some poor or sick person. If I cannot do any outward act for them, I will offer an especial prayer for some one in this parish who is in need or sorrow.

Whenever we fast, we should keep this in mind. Fasting is best done for someone else, not to gain graces in a selfish way, but to empty ourselves out for our neighbor in imitation of Christ

Ten Ways We Can Practice Fasting ED BROOM, OMV

Ten Ways We Can Practice Fasting


Jesus said: “Unless you do penance you will all perish,” (Lk. 13:3). In the first

preaching of His Public ministry Jesus exhorts us to conversion: “Be converted for the Kingdom of God is at hand,”(Mk. 1:15). The Mystical Body of Christ generously offers us a season of grace which has, as its purpose, conversion every year. This is the forty days of Lent.

Moses fasted forty days on the Mountain and Jesus spent forty days in the desert fasting. The Church encourages us in the Season of Lent to dig deep into the inner recesses of our hearts and beg for conversion of heart.

This conversion can become a reality by undertaking three traditional practices: prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. (Mt. 6: 1-18) In prayer we lift our minds to God; in almsgiving we go out to meet the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters; in fasting we dig deep into our hearts and beg the Lord for the grace to relinquish our attachment to sin!

This being the case, what might be some concrete ways that we can practice fasting? An important note is the following: fasting is not a mere diet, with the simple desire to lose a few extra pounds. Rather, the purpose of fasting is to please God, convert our hearts as well as to beg for the conversion of others. In other words, fasting must have a horizontal or supernatural intention!

Ten Ways We Can Fast

  1. Eat less and receive the most Holy Eucharist more.

By this practice we give more importance to our spiritual life and the salvation of our soul. Jesus said: “Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” (Jn. 6:27—Discourse on the Bread of Life)

  1. Control your tongue.

Saint James says, “We should be slow to speak and quick to listen.” Read James chapter three—one of the best exhortations in the world to work on controlling our tongue!

  1. Heroic Moments.  

The Founder of Opus Dei has coined the phrase, “The Heroic Moment”. By this Saint Jose Maria asserts that as soon as we hear the alarm-clock we should spring from bed, pray and start our day. The devil of laziness encourages us to push the Snooze-button! I do not believe the Snooze-button exists in the vocabulary and practice of the saints. What do you think?

  1. Control those wandering eyes.  

The eyes are the mirror to the soul. The holy King David plunged into sin and more sin leading to murder for the simple reason that he allowed his eyes to wander. His eyes wandered and gazed upon a married woman—Bathsheba. Adulterous thoughts led to physical adultery, to denial of his sin and eventually to killing an innocent man—the husband of Bathsheba (II Samuel 11-12). Let us strive to live out the Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God.”(Mt. 5: 8)

  1. Punctuality.

Jesus says, “He who is faithful in the small will be faithful in the larger things.” (Mt. 25:23) Being punctual and on time is a sign of order, respect for others, and a means to accomplish tasks well and on time.

  1. Listen to Others.  

It is all too easy to interrupt others when they speak and try to impose our own ideas even before the person has finished his idea. Charity, which means, love for God and for others, teaches us to respect others and allow them to speak without interrupting and imposing our own ideas.

Listening to others is also an act of humility—putting others before ourselves!“Jesus meek and humble of heart make my heart like unto yours.” (Mt. 11:28-30—Jesus describes His Heart as meek and humble…)

  1. Be Thankful Rather Than Complain.  

Never allow a day to pass in which you do not thank God. We should constantly be thanking God. Furthermore, we should make it a habit to frequently give thanks to others. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever,” (Psalm 118:1).

  1. Smile, even if you don’t necessarily want to.

This indeed could be a great penance—to smile at somebody even when you are tired, carrying with you a headache or a cold. This is heroic virtue. A smile is something small, but it is contagious. Indeed a sincere smile can lift those who see it from desolation to a state of consolation. One of the most evident signs of being a follower of Jesus is the smile of joy radiating from the face.“Rejoice in the Lord; I say it again: rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil. 4:4)

  1. Pray, even when you do not feel like it.

Many of us unfortunately base our spiritual life on mere feelings which are ephemeral, transitory and passing like the dew that evaporates by the morning sun. Our best example is of course Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk. 22:39-46). When Jesus was experiencing a mortal agony and desolation that drew huge drops of Blood from His pores, He did not really feel like praying. Nonetheless, Jesus prayed all the more fervently.

Therefore, let us practice fasting and penance in our lives and have a set time and place to pray and to pray at times even when we do not feel like it. This is penance and true love for God! This is a sign of true maturity in the faith!

  1. Encouragement. 

“Barnabus” actually means “Son of encouragement”(Acts 4:36). Let us get out of our egotistic shell and focus more on God and seeing Jesus in others—in imitation of the Good Samaritan. (Lk. 10). Let us learn to be a Simon of Cyrene and help our brothers and sisters who are carrying the weight of a very heavy cross. Let us lighten it by encouraging words, motivational gestures and by a heart filled with love and compassion. Remember the Golden Rule: “Do to others what you would like them to do to you.”(Mt. 7:12) In the difficult storms of the earthly battle, a word of encouragement can indeed be a powerful wind in the sails!

Prayerfully read through these ten suggestions on how to fast—how to deny yourself—and choose at least one or two that you can start to practice right away. May Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, encourage us to deny ourselves and say “yes” to the love of God by serving our brothers and sisters with a generous heart! (Lk. 1: 38—Mary’s  “Yes” to God).

Photo by Sangia on Unsplash

By Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary and From Humdrum to Holy. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom’s Blog.



Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio

40 fresh, practical Lenten Ideas to make Lent a Season of spiritual progress and personal breakthrough!  New ideas for a new experience of this season of transformation!

Lent is supposed to be a season of a successful journey through the desert of penance to a new land and a new, deeper, intimacy with God. But often, we find ourselves going back to the same old Lenten pathways of past years and end up getting nowhere. My aim here is to put into your hands some fresh Lenten ideas to help you approach the season in a new way so Lent can become for you the experience of lasting change that it is intended to be.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of Lenten ideas. But it’s a start! Many of the resources mentioned here are available from The Crossroads Initiative. For more help in understanding the season of Lent and putting these ideas and other tips into practice, get my book Forty Days, Forty Ways: A New Look at Lent.



  1. Sometime shortly before Lent or on the first day or two of the season, take 30 minutes to pray.   Ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance, look over this list of ideas, and make a few practical Lenten resolutions.  You can start with just one idea.  But don’t start with more than three ideas!  Be careful.  If you try to implement too many ideas at once, you may not succeed in anything!  If you need to get up early or stay up late to get the 30 minutes of quiet, do it! Turn off your phone and computer. Don’t put it off and don’t allow interruptions.


  1. Get to daily Mass during Lent.
  2. If you can’t do Mass daily during Lent, go to Mass on Fridays in addition to Sunday and thank Him for laying his life down for you.  Maybe you can go another time or two as well during the Lenten season.
  3. Spend at least 30 minutes in Eucharistic adorationat least one time during each week of Lent.
  4. Recover the Catholic tradition of making frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament throughout the week, even if it is only for 5 minutes.
  5. Even if you can’t get to daily Mass, get a daily Catholic Missal or go online or get a smart phone app such as Laudateor iMissal to get a list of the readings used each day in Mass, and read these readings daily during Lent. During special seasons such as Lent, the Mass readings are thematically coordinated and make for a fantastic Bible study!


  1. Get to confessionat least once during the season of Lent after making a good examination of conscience. If you are not sure why confession is important, get my CD Who Needs Confession.”
  2. In addition to the penance assigned by the priest, fulfill the conditions necessary for a plenary indulgence. You can learn about plenary indulgences from the official Handbook of Indulgences.





  1. Daily, make a plan to get up earlier than anyone else in your house and spend your first 15 minutes of the day thanking God for the gift of life and offering your day to Him.
  2. Make a decision to read at least some Scripture every day during Lent!
  3. Pray the Liturgy of the Hoursduring Lent. You can buy a one volume edition or a full four volume edition. Or you can get it day by day for free using one of the smart phone apps such as Laudate or iBreviary or online at or Universalis. Or you can subscribe to a monthly publication called the Magnificat that provides a few things from the Liturgy of the Hours together with the Mass readings of the day. The Magnificat is a great way to start learning the Liturgy of the Hours.
  4. Prayer is like breathing – you have to do it continually. But sometimes you need to pause and take a very deep breath. That’s what a retreat is all about. Plan a retreat this Lent. It could be simply a half day, out in nature, or in a Church. Or it could be a full day. Or an overnight. You can certainly read lots of things during your retreat or listen to lots of talks. But try sticking mostly to Scripture, the liturgy, and quiet as much as you can. During or at the end of the retreat, write down what the Holy Spirit seems to be saying.
  5. Make the Stations of the Cross each Friday of the Season of Lent either with a group or by yourself. If you have kids, bring them.
  6. Make it a habit to stop at least five times a day during Lent, raise your heart and mind to God, and say a short prayer such as “Jesus, I love you,” or “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” or “Lord, I offer it up for you.”

For more of great ideas for the Lenten Season, check out Dr. Italy’s podcast on Lent.


  1. Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary often during Lent, especially on Friday and Wednesday. The glorious mysteries are especially appropriate on Sundays. Joyful and Luminous mysteries are great on other days.
  2. Purchase the Scriptural Rosary, which supplies you with a scripture verse to recite between each Hail Mary. This makes it easier to meditate on the mysteries. Another Lenten resource to deepen your understanding of the Rosary is my CD set “How Mary and the Rosary can Change Your Life.
  3. If you’ve never done a family rosary, begin doing it.  You could start with once a week on Friday or Sunday. If it’s tough to start with a full five decades, try starting with one. Use the Scriptural Rosaryand have a different person read each of the Scriptures between the Hail Mary’s. This gets everyone more involved.


  1. Pray each day during Lent for the intentions and health of the Holy Father.
  2. 19.   Pray each day for your bishop and all the bishops of the Catholic Church.
  3. Pray for your priests and deacons and for all priests and deacons.
  4. 21.   Pray for the millions of Christians suffering under persecution in various Muslim and Communist countries around the world such as the Somalia, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Indonesia, China, Viet Nam, and North Korea.
  5. Pray for Christian unity, that there would be one flock and one shepherd.
  6. 23.   Pray for the evangelizationof all those who have not yet heard and accepted the Good News about Jesus.
  7. 24.   Here’s a great Lenten idea: Pray for your enemies. In fact, think of the person who has most hurt you or who most annoys you and spend several minutes each day thanking God for that person and asking God to bless him or her.
  8. Pray for an end to abortion on demand. Pray for pregnant women contemplating abortion.
  9. 26.   Pray during Lent for a just peace in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, the Holy Land and elsewhere. Pray for our troops and for others in harm’s way.
  10. Pray for an end to capital punishment. Pray for those on death row, and for the families of murder victims.


  1. Find a form of Lenten fastingthat is appropriate for you, given your age, state of health, and state of life.  We need to broaden our idea of fasting.  Some fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Others fast from sweets or alcohol throughout Lent. Some fast on one or more days per week from breakfast all the way to dinner, spending lunch hour in prayer or at noon Mass.  Another idea is to cut out all snacks between meals or to forego Starbucks stops and eating out. The money saved from not buying various things should be given to an apostolate or ministry serving the physically or spiritually poor.


  1. Get to know the Fathers of the Church and read selections from them along with Scripture. Short selections from the Fathers writing on Lenten themes and ideas can be downloaded for free from the Lenten Library of the Crossroads Initiative.
  2. Find a written biography of a Saint that particularly appeals to you, and read it during the Season of Lent.  If you’ve never read it, Mark Twain’ historical novel on St. Joan of Arcis fantastic.
  3. Instead of secular videos for weekend entertainment during Lent, try some videos that will enrich your spiritual life. Suggestions:Jesus of Nazareth, by Franco Zeffirelli or The Scarlet and the Black.
  4. While driving, turn off the secular radio for a while and use commute time to listen to some spiritual teaching on CD, your smart phone or Catholic Radio. Some great resources can be purchased through your local Catholic book store or online.


  1. Find a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or crisis pregnancy center, and volunteer some time there throughout Lent. Serve the people there with the understanding that in so doing, you are serving Jesus. Try to see Jesus in each person there.


  1. Visit someone at a nursing home or in the hospital or sick at home.  Love Jesus in and through the suffering person.
  2. Is there a widow or divorced person living in your neighborhood? If so, it would be a great idea to invite that person to your home for dinner, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
  3. Get the video of Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christand watch it during Lent if you feel you can handle the violence (there is also a version with many of the most violent scenes cut out). Get a copy of The Guide to the Passion to help you get the most out of the movie.
  4. Invite someone over to your houseto watch Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ, especially someone whose faith is rather nominal, or who does not practice his or her faith, or who does not profess Christian faith at all. Give them a copy of The Guide to the Passion: A Hundred Questions about the Passion of the Christ.


  1. If you are married, it would be an awesome Lenten idea to spend some special, focused time with your spouse, strengthening your marriage. Start praying together, or make praying together a more frequent occurrence.
  2. Spend some focused time together with each of your children, or your siblings, or your parents.  Listen. Pray. Maybe even have fun!  Yes, fun can be an appropriate idea for a Lenten penance. Holiness is not supposed to be glum!


  1. When Easter comes, don’t drop the new ideas and practice you’ve begun during the Season Lent!  Make them a permanent feature of a deeper, richer Christian life!

This list of 40 new Ideas to make the forty days of Lent a life-changing experience is based on the list of Lenten ideas found in a book by Marcellino D’Ambrosio (Dr. Italy) Forty Days, Forty Ways: A New Look at Lent (Servant, 2014).

For more great ideas for the Lenten Season, see the 40 DAYS OF LENT section of the Crossroads Initiative Library.


Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio

From a colorful and varied background as a professor of theology, a father of five, business owner, and professional performer Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka “Dr. Italy”) crafts talks, blog posts, books, and videos that are always fascinating, practical, and easy to understand.  He is a popular speaker, TV and radio personality, New York Times best-selling author, and pilgrimage host who has been leading people on a journey of discovery for over thirty years.  For a fuller bio and video, visit the Dr. Italy page. For a full Curriculum Vitae (CV) of Dr. Italy, click here.